I’ve been thinking lately about the biggest roadblocks to small group ministry; the things that stand in the way of a truly thriving small group ministry. See also, 10 Powerful Benefits of a Thriving Small Group Ministry.
Here are what I believe are the top 5 roadblocks:
- A doubtful or conflicted senior pastor.
- A bloated belong and become menu.
- Indecision about the best next step.
- A myopic understanding of the culture.
- A leadership development disconnect
Roadblock #1: a doubtful or conflicted senior pastor
As I’ve said many times, building a thriving small group ministry absolutely depends on a senior pastor who is the champion, the face of grouplife. In every church where small group ministry thrives, the senior pastor is the main spokesperson. In nearly every instance where small group ministry struggles or fails, the senior pastor is doubtful about the essential role of life-on-life ministry or conflicted about the best way to connect and disciple people.
Doubtful about the essential role of life-on-life: Sometimes a senior pastor has never really thought about the way life-change really happens. Taking for granted that the weekend message or the weekend worship service provides 100% of the minimum requirements for spiritual growth turns a blind eye to the one-anothers of the Bible. See also, The Primary Activity of the Early Church.
Solution: Admittedly, this is a very tough sell. What’s the work-around? I think part of it is to simply live it yourself and constantly tell stories of authentic life-change as they happen. There’s no substitute for you modeling the real thing. It does help in some instances to point out the personal stories of high-profile pastors like Rick Warren, Andy Stanley, and Bill Hybels. You need to do that carefully and with wisdom. It is compelling evidence when you hear or read the personal accounts of some of America’s most highly regarded preachers talk about the power of life-on-life. FYI: I am working on a post with quotes from many prominent senior pastors about the essential aspect of life-on-life.
Conflicted about the best way to connect and disciple people:
Sometimes a senior pastor has come to conclusion that life-change happens with some blend of weekend service and a life-on-life ingredient…but is conflicted about the best way to connect and disciple people. When that happens a senior pastor will almost always see the need to equally promote all of the available options (i.e., on-campus classes like Precepts or Bible Study Fellowship, specialized and intensive discipleship programs like MasterLife, the Real Life Discipleship Manual or a homegrown option, etc.).
Solution: I think some combination of a discussion about the degree of difficulty in choosing from too large a menu and an awareness of the precarious position of unconnected people will help. Not easy, but any means, but a necessary discussion. See also, Supercharge Your Ministry with These 5 Questions, How to Make Next Steps Easier to Choose, and What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting Unconnected People?
What do you think? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.